Waste can really almost be considered to be a cultural asset: remnants of human life have been indicators of social development since human existence. Landfilling was the first waste management concept developed in order to be able to cope with the increasing amounts of waste accumulated in the course of the centuries. This method of depositing waste persisted as the chief element of waste disposal until the end of the 20th century.
The awareness that waste dumping is a ticking time bomb however only really became acute in the 1980s. Concrete political action towards minimisation of the potential damage to the environment by landfill sites only followed in 1993. Dumping untreated waste was then completely forbidden (with a 12 year transition period) by the Technical Instructions on Municipal Solid Waste (TASi).
Two Treatment Methods
The introduction of the Recycling and Waste Management Act (KrW-/AbfG) in 1996 set three objectives: to try to avoid waste, to recycle and dispose of existing waste. These requirements then had to be implemented by all the federal states of Germany.
Exceptions to the rule were to be prevented by the Waste Dumping Directive (AbfAblV) issued 1 March 2001. The obligatory treatment of residual waste made the utilisation of the energetic potential of this waste an important aspect for the legislators. This was however associated with high investments by the operators in safe plants compliant with this requirement. Since 2005, two different TASi-compliant waste pretreatment methods are used in Germany: municipal solid waste incineration (MSWI) and mechanical biological treatment (MBT).